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Pavilions for Music 

Bringing Bandstands Back to Life

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Forgotten but found..... what a remarkable story

Posted on January 18, 2016 at 3:50 PM

Now this is a wonderful story. You hear about warehouses or old hangars discovered full of classic cars worth a fortune, well this isn't quite classic cars but the story of a long forgotten bandstand. Saughton Park, Edinburgh bandstand was removed many many years ago like so many. It was the twin of one found on the Meadows, also in Edinburgh and a rather lovely Lion Foundry No 23, both erected in 1908. Both became disused and the one on the Meadows sadly lost but the one from Saughton Park, removed and stored in a council depot. And that was the last that was heard of it - stored in a depot. So 2013/14 and a campaign launched to reinstate the bandstand and by 2016 the council is successful and receives a whopping great grant to not only restore the park, but put the bandstand back. But.... where is that bandstand? Peter McDougall from Edinburgh City Council picks up the story.

" When I started with the Council as Development Officer for the Saughton Park Restoration Project in February 2014 one of my tasks was to find the Saughton Bandstand which the Council had apparently misplaced.

Over the next three months I read all that I could about our bandstand, which I remembered fondly from my time working as an arboriculturist based at Saughton Park in the early 1980’s. My most notable memory of the Saughton bandstand was when Derek Dick, then a forestry student on his sandwich year with us, stood in the Bandstand and sang Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ all the way through to a bunch of somewhat underwhelmed tree surgeons. Derek went on to become Fish, the singer with Marillion!

Anyway, I read your fantastic book and the 2009 Charles Laing & Sons Ltd conservation report that the Council commissioned on our Lion No.23 Bandstand, but I still could not find it. I even spoke to the chap who dismantled it, which was his first job as an apprentice. The rumours were that it had been moved to a storage place near Penicuik, south of Edinburgh, but alas, no it wasn’t there.

Then I found out that it had been moved some years later from Penicuik to Granton in north Edinburgh, but again I drew a blank, it wasn’t there and no-one knew much about it. On my quest I was regularly being faced with lots of bunnets being shifted back, heads scratched and phrases like “A bandstand you say, aye ah do remember someone mentioning ane right enough son, but…”

A chance meeting with an old colleague from the Planning dept at last threw up a tangible lead. He had photos of it in storage. So here I saw it, our No.23 sitting on a rack, all labelled and waiting. The trouble was that the guy didn’t take the pics, nor was here sure about where they were taken, but they dated from the last fifteen years or so, “Try over Westerhailes way” he said, “I’m sure that it is over there somewhere”. This was discouraging as Westerhailes on the map looks like it covers about a quarter of the City.

With that, my colleague Alan Grevers suggested jumping in the van and visiting a little known Council store in Murrayburn which is part of Westerhailes. When we arrived we were faced with an enormous hangar like shed with nothing to suggest what was inside at all or indeed, who owned and operated the facility. No notices, no Council logos…..nothing. Completely anonymous! No bell, not even a letterbox.

We found a door, which opened when we tried the handle. Stepping inside it was very dark apart from a bit of light coming from a portacabin in the corner, the door of which opened and into the pool of light appeared a guy in a hi-vis coat. “Hi, I’m Pete McDougall, I’m working on the Saughton Park project……” I began, but was quickly interrupted ……. “and you are here to see your bandstand, I’ve been waiting on you……” said the guy in the hi-vis. At that he flicked some switches which revealed, light by light something out of the Raiders of the Lost Ark…..everywhere around us were old artefacts, Victorian lamp posts, massive bits of ornate stonework, a pair of Gryphons and loads of gargoyles. In the distance hi-vis man shouted “over here, it’s all here”. Sure enough, there it was, our Lion foundry No.23 all laid out on racks and labelled, apart from one column that they had renovated at some point.

Not a bad day at work at all really." 

What a brilliant story. 


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